Trial Publicity: When Venue Becomes Compromised

When criminal cases become part of the media, bias may kick in. In some cases, a prosecutor can utilize the press to convict someone outside of the courtroom. In other cases, the defendant can utilize a platform where empathy can be provided for a client they feel is innocent. If it were not for the media, we would not have “The West Memphis 3” (https://famous-trials.com/westmemphis) and Ryan Ferguson. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ryan-ferguson-wrongfully-convicted/). For every one of these cases, there is an abundance of people that get convicted in the media. To discuss this matter, we have asked for insight from several of the top attorneys in the State of Michigan.

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County, Michigan. (www.Mcmanusamadeo.com). McManus is one of the top real estate and business lawyers in Michigan. McManus stated, “When we see cases in the media, we realize that potential jurors are going to read stories before the case ever hits the courthouse steps. This can be a problem, especially when there are social media movements.”

Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo and has evolved into a top-flight divorce attorney.  (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/jennifer-kelley.html).  Kelley, a top divorce attorney, said, “I always tell clients that they need to watch their social media presence. When I have a media case, the client is under the microscope. Nothing positive happens when a case is presented to the public before the jurist.”

Christian Wiesenberg is the founder of the Fidelis Law Firm and the Executive Director of the Adolescent Redemption Project. (https://www.adolescentredemptionproject.org/board-of-directors/). Wiesenberg is one of the top criminal lawyers in Livingston County, Michigan, and provided insight on the topic. “Ideally, we want a jury to hear the case for the first and last time when they step into the jury box. Motions for change of venues are difficult to achieve, but the damage of a case is easy to find.”

Ashlee Duplessis is the owner of Duplessis Law in Royal Oak, Michigan, and a top criminal litigator in Wayne and Oakland Counties. (https://detroitlegaldefense.com/). Duplessis added, “Whenever there is a reporter that approaches my client, I indicate that I will do the talking. A criminal defendant can destroy their case. We have to counsel them properly.”

Megan Mast is an Associate Attorney for Tannis-Schultz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County. (https://www.tanisschultz.com/about-us/megan-a-mast/). Mast commented, “The Kent County media can make or break a case. The most important part of media cases is knowing your audience; most lawyers can hurt their clients. Strategy and putting the needs of the client first is essential when looking at how the media can affect the venue of a case.”

William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo and arguably the top criminal defense lawyer in Michigan.  (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-amadeo-5031a925/). Amadeo said, “When it comes to the media, I find there is a two-way street. I will protect the media, and in return, I just want fairness. There are journalists such as Josh Champlin from the Argus-Press is one of the best in the business. (https://www.argus-press.com/). When he is covering a case, I’m on, and I feel comfortable. If Kim Russell (https://www.wxyz.com/kim-russell) is covering a matter, there is a caring attitude. However, some other journalists not worth mentioning are searching for a conviction as opposed to objectivity. Those are the type of writers that create motions for a change of venue.”

While the media has a job to do and sites like Facebook (www.Facebook.com) and Instagram (www.Instragram.com) are excellent sources of information, disseminating information is a double-edged sword.

 

 

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